(BPT) - Whether you're a freshman taking your first college course or a lifelong learner trying to give your career an edge, higher education can help turn dreams into reality. To get the most out of any class, preparation is key. However, many students struggle positioning themselves for success, even before the first session begins.
Fortunately, there are steps students, parents and school administrators can take to remove possible barriers, ensuring students remain engaged in the classroom, are supported for success and ultimately graduate with a college degree.
Step 1: Initiate relationships with key resources at an institution who can assist with potential economic hardships
Traditional financial aid options help students throughout the year, but some students face unexpected economic hardships that impact their lives in myriad ways. This is even more common as families continue to navigate circumstances related to the pandemic.
Both students and parents should establish and maintain open communication channels with college advisors, faculty and support staff. This will provide students with the resources to explore all financial aid opportunities if needed, therefore reducing stress in the long run so they can better focus on their studies.
Step 2: Be prepared for first-day transitions
Having all materials ready for the first day of class might seem like a given, but studies show this frequently isn't occurring. College students are forgoing obtaining their course materials and it is negatively impacting success, with 85% of students saying they have delayed or avoided purchasing required course materials.
One solution growing in popularity from Barnes & Noble College is First Day® Complete. This innovative equitable access program automatically provides all course materials to students prior to the first day of class to ensure every student has access to all their learning materials across all of their courses, allowing them to engage with course content from day one to support their academic success. Course material costs are bundled into tuition or applied as a course charge for one low, flat rate each semester. Through a concierge-style service, students can pick up all their physical materials either at the campus bookstore or have them shipped, while digital materials are accessible through an institution’s learning management system (LMS).
In fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms, BNC surveyed students at colleges and universities nationwide to find out what they thought of the program and the impact it’s had on their academic experience. The survey results showed students felt they had better experiences and, ultimately, better academic results:
- 74% of students said they were better prepared for the academic term.
- 70% of students said the program had a positive impact on their success.
- 62% of students felt the program helped them achieve better grades.
Of note, historically underrepresented students saw even greater impact when utilizing the First Day Complete program:
- 84% of students of color said they were better prepared for the academic term.
- 78% of students of color said the program had a positive impact on their success.
"Nearly 60% of Muskingum University students have significant financial need — and that may cause some students to forgo purchasing their textbooks,” said Philip E. Laube, vice president for Finance & Operations and treasurer at Muskingum University. “When students are better prepared, we see better student outcomes. Now, all students will have the tools and course materials they need to succeed at no extra cost.”
Step 3: Take advantage of any available tutoring resources
Even if students are prepared to learn starting on the very first day, many things can happen. If a student is struggling to understand the material or has circumstances outside of school negatively impacting their ability to succeed, it's easy to fall behind. And once behind, it can be difficult to catch up.
Students can reach out to their universities to learn about what support services are available. This might include in-person or virtual tutoring, or additional resources they can access such as online programs or extended library services.
One service many college students have found helpful is bartleby®. The virtual study tool offers homework help by subject, a writing services center and provides 24/7 online tutors for students with personalized instruction.
Leadership at higher education institutions nationwide want all students to succeed no matter their circumstances. These three steps can help remove barriers to success so every student can thrive throughout their college experience.